When our reaction to an event or person is out of proportion to what is happening in the present—which we can assess only if we choose to stop and think—the present event COULD NOT be the cause. It might contribute a little, sure, but the real cause is something from the past. Let me illustrate:
I know a woman, Sherry, who studied and practiced Real Love for more than a year. She would be calm, happy, and loving, and then something would set her off. Then she’d see threats all around her, feel victimized, and become angry. She recognized that she was doing this, but she couldn’t seem to stop it.
One day she attacked me for being “unloving,” so I explained what I was really thinking when I sent the offending email. I recognized that explanations often are interpreted as defensive and therefore do no good.
But she replied and said, “I read your email and cried. I could feel your love for me.”
“My love for you does not change from day to day,” I said. “When you don't feel it, I promise that you are feeling wounds from the past.” She had been raised in an environment like a mine field, where explosions occurred daily, and she never knew what would cause them. She had severe PCSD and was hypervigilant much of the time.
“When I’m in this place of feeling loved, it feels so pure and complete and honest. But then it suddenly goes. What’s happening?”
“Easy. If my love for you hasn’t changed, I could not be the cause of your pain and anger. Impossible, so you know you’re just experiencing the effects of old patterns and old pain. When it comes up and you don't recognize it, you blame whoever is closest. You blame me a lot, but I'm still here.”
“I can’t believe how wrongly I interpreted what you first emailed me, and then my anger just exploded out of control.”
“Yeah, you really missed that one. All the way. I don’t care—I wasn’t hurt—but pay close attention to this lesson. I can be pretty stupid on occasion, but this time I simply gave you a pure gift. Pure sharing. Zero expectations. You felt it as some kind of pressure. If you remember that I love you, then that pressure can’t be coming from me. It HAS to be coming from the past. And it did. And then you put yourself right in that cycle of obligation and guilt and pain. Then you got angry to protect yourself.”
“You’re right. I COMPLETELY misinterpreted what you said. I heard a few words—don’t even know which ones for sure—that reminded me of what my mother would have said, which would have been followed by a nuclear explosion. And then it’s like I lost my mind. I did get caught in that cycle you just described.”
“Try to think of it this way,” I said. “Your past—your childhood, your experiences with your mother and others—is like a merry-go-round that follows you around, everywhere you go. If I do anything that reminds you of the past—or somebody else says something, or you just get tired or sick or drained, or you try to love someone when you don't have it to give—you begin to fall over, and then you reach out with your hand to protect your fall. The merry-go-round is always less than an arm's length away, so you grab hold of one of the poles, or one of the figures, and poof! you are sucked out of reality and find yourself riding the same futile cycle that you've always known.”
“I do this with other people too, don’t I? Like the other day with my sister.”
“Of course, and because of the merry-go-round, which was created in your childhood, you were snatched out of the real world. But you don't SEE the merry-go-round, so you blame the old and deadly cycle on whoever is right in front of you, or whoever you were thinking of, or whoever served your need to blame—me, your sister, anybody. All old stuff.”
“I still believe that when you love me, I should be able to love you back, and when I can’t, that makes me a bad person.”
“Nope. Just makes you temporarily incapable. THAT is the real world. The merry-go-round is a past delusion that causes real damage in the present once you grab hold of it. You can choose to avoid it.”
“It feels wrong somehow that you love me and I have nothing to return. It's just one way, which makes me a kind of leech, just taking, taking, taking, and being so selfish.”
“That’s your mother talking from the merry-go-round. Are your two young children leeches because they take from you and have nothing to give unconditionally?”
“Thus endeth the lesson.”
When our reaction to an event or person is out of proportion to what is happening in the present—which we can assess only if we choose to stop and think—the present event COULD NOT be the cause. It might contribute a little, sure, but the real cause is something from the past.
And we don’t need to analyze and dissect the cause. We need only to remember the truth: we are NOT bad, nor are the people around us. We are not failures. We did not create the merry-go-round, but we can now CHOOSE to get off it. We can choose—instead of just mindlessly reacting—to feel the love we have in the present—from friends, from family, from God—and we won’t be trapped by old patterns. Yes, it’s that simple.
Choose to get off the merry-go-round of the past!
READ OR LISTEN TO: